- Associated Press - Wednesday, August 19, 2015

LAKEVILLE, Minn. (AP) - The attorney for a Minnesota woman accused of hiding her two teenage daughters from their custodial father maintains that his client doesn’t know where the girls are located.

Last week, Sandra Grazzini-Rucki was charged in Dakota County with three counts of felony deprivation of parental rights. Authorities haven’t been able to locate Grazzini-Rucki and haven’t talked to her since Gianna and Samantha Rucki disappeared in April 2013, Lakeville police Lt. Jason Polinski said.

Attorney Michelle MacDonald said Tuesday that Grazzini-Rucki doesn’t know where her daughters are and didn’t have anything to do with the girls’ disappearance.

The girls were 13 and 14 when they ran from their home in Lakeville. About three weeks later, they appeared on a local TV news show and said they fled because they were afraid of their father, David Rucki, and that was the last time they were seen in public. The girls are now 15 and 17.

In 2013, a judge granted custody to David Rucki and visitation to Grazzini-Rucki. The parents were involved in a bitter divorce and custody battle when the girls disappeared.

Grazzini-Rucki has accused her ex-husband of abusing her and their daughters, while Rucki claims his ex-wife brainwashed their children to make up the allegations.

A Star Tribune (https://strib.mn/1E5nbjD ) story in April provided new information that helped police build a case for an arrest warrant for Grazzini-Rucki, who previously was considered a “person of interest,” in the case, Polinski said.

Nearly all of the police department’s leads were exhausted, he said, when the newspaper reported the statements of a self-described witness to the girls’ flight. Dale Nathan, a longtime critic of family courts and a suspended attorney, said Grazzini-Rucki picked up the girls in her car after they ran away and the four of them drove around for several hours before he was dropped off.

“Dale Nathan’s statement, and then corroboration through others of his statement, led to the charges,” Polinski said.

MacDonald said Tuesday that Nathan’s account of the girls’ disappearance is false.


Information from: Star Tribune, https://www.startribune.com

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